growing your own fruit, veggies and herbs getting dirty and generally living the good life

[bio]diverse bats?

a lepidopteran of some kind

a lepidopteran of some kind

biodiversity: n the existence of a wide variety of plants and animals in their natural environments [collins dictionary]

I came home one night [a little the worse!] and saw this fella at my front door. So I took a photo. I thought it was a bat? It’s not. It looks like one. It’s not. But in my research I found Bats are good. Necessary; for plants, for humans – for life. They have a role to play.

I tried to check it out on the Bat Conservation Ireland website, but I found their web information so technical, for me anyway, as an apprentice novice of bats.

What I did find was [yet again & well done] by Dubln City Council. So I telephoned the number and got Mairead Stack [we’d met before], well her voice mail. So I emailed. [Mairead is the biodiversity officer for DCC]. I wanted to find out if it was a bat and what on earth were they good for!

The website pdf says:

The main value is insect control. The common pippistrell can catch up to 3,500 midgets in a night. Bats also serve as indicators of the health of the ecosystem.

God, if we didn’t have bats. Imagine what outside that spotlight would really look like…?!! Mairead also responded [thank you] to my email and informed me that:

It certainly isn’t a bat…. It’s a lepidopteran of some kind (moth).If you go to Bat Conservation Ireland’s website you will find lots of helpful advice and guidance on bats. Also, the DCC Biodiversity Action Plan on www.dublincity.ie lists the 8 species we have in Dublin (there are 10 in Ireland). The main thing re gardens and bats is to grow lots of insect attracting flowers so nectar producing, sweet smelling (especially in evening/night time). Also to have some water feature, again to attract insects on which bats feed, have a mature tree which is forked in which they can roost and put up bat box in the apex of the eaves of your house.

Full credit to DCC and Mairéad. Bulaibh bós in fact. It’s amazing the varying [and most welcome] calls that come in to a landscape & design office [partly the reason why I blog]. But I now know in writing that people shouldn’t be afraid of these chappies – we need them. Now all I need is a picture of a moth bat…

mustard – seed, grow, crop, eat

peter donegan garden advice growing mustard seeds

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I found it really hard to find information of any substance or at all in any books on this plant.

But, if ever you wished to go green really quickly this is the plant for you. I chose white mustard. Instructions say it can be grown on tissue paper! it is that easy. I planted the seeds a different way [no particular reason, partly why there are so many books on gardening I suppose…] then planted outside.

Some say crop the plant just before flowering, the instructions say when its 2″ tall? I say whatever makes you happy. Why? Because, again, the varying schools of thought suggest that the taller the plant the stronger the taste…

Now it is all cropped? Chop it. Eat it. Next time I can grow it to my own specific taste. My tip. Sow a little [about ten seeds] every two weeks and keep the crop turning over.

mustard white seed plant crop peter donegan

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growing pumpkins from seed

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I hear you… it’s only mid July. No matter. You need them for October – but they have to grow! If you ever want to know when to start growing anything the easiest [cheaters tip!] advice is to check your garden centre once a month – when they’re available by seed – that’s when to start. Easy!

This is from the Johnsons range. I actually thought they’d be difficult to grow? no – easy peezy. really! There’s the packet [left] and the seed just below. I just bought them in my local garden centre.

How? who? what? Take a tray or a small plant pot about the size of a tea cup; fill with clean compost; soak first with water [from the bottom up is better – ie. sit in a basin of water and let in take up the moisture until the compost goes from dry brown to damp black] and then push the seed [it looks like a leprechauns surf board] sideways a little [half an inch] below the height of the compost until you can see it no more.

Jack O lantern [cucurbita pepo] is the more common or the ‘typical’ pumpkin as we know it and the plants will need to be planted about one metre apart outdoors when the roots fill out the tray. As you can see mine [after just two weeks! – click here] have a just little more to go before I allow them into unprotected typical irish weather.

Books and catalogues generally base sowing times on an average/ mean temperatures and as long as I understand what the plant needs to grow then I can work away and pretty much garden away as I please.

The ‘book’ tells me I’m a little late sowing – but the book obviously hasn’t seen the barbados like weather that’s been coming to North Dublin recently!!

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UPDATE:

here are my plants as of 28th of August as promised:

UPDATE: A Real Pumpkin Farm

Sowing the seeds

I can only really buy seeds and the paraphernalia required in the same places as you. This week I bought [in woodies: i emailed them this post] mustard, pumpkin, carrott, sprouts, cabbage, brocoli, onion and sweetcorn.

I didn’t buy lettuce seeds because the man said: ‘did you see them there?’ ‘no, I couldn’t find any’ I said. ‘well then they must not be there?’ I said ‘I suppose you’re right…. thanks for being so helpful…’ and then he continued talking to his mate behind the counter. So I asked the girl on the cash register but I forgot [and she reminded me!] that ‘no I don’t do customer services…’

Anyhow; Fill the trays with compost. Pop two odd seeds into each plug cell. Don’t forget to label them! Drop into a sink and allow the water to be drawn up from the bottom. And wait for nature to take its course.

In the meantime we may as well dream……

Herb Garden Harvest

herb garden harvesting - peter donegan fileMost of you will remember my herb garden from a few months back. It didn’t look much at the time – but – whlst I had been borrowing a bit hither dither for cooking.. I eventually had to crop the parsley, some chives and rhubarb. I ate all the blackberries.

The parsley I washed and let dry on tea towels over the weekend; then fine-ish chopped and jarred it. It not my preferred type of garnish [dried] but its better than the little bought dried stuff in jars. And its free now, it tastes better and it my crop gives the plant a little rest after its haircut.

The rhubarb – it wasn’t so much of a crop…. I had to move it temporarily so it had kind of a setback but, its ok now and I cropped it a little; that’ll be put in the freezer as will the chives. The strawberries – well I kind of ate them too.

More recently I have planted some apples; The varieties are ‘Johnagold’ [2 no.] and ‘winston’ [3 no.] both 10 litre pot size and for the Plum I chose the variety ‘Opal’ [5 no.] in a 10 litre pot size as well.

Doesn’t it make you so proud when you see it all – and that kettle is really tall!!